Unknown Political Bodies: Negative Anthropology, Political Theory, and Indigenous Societies


ACLS Fellowship Program


Political Science


This project juxtaposes twentieth-century French critical philosophy and case studies of self-isolating indigenous societies to two ends. First, reading the philosophical work through analyses of interactions among state, civil society, and self-isolating indigenes highlights the explicitly political features of twentieth-century French disavowal of a human nature or essence. Corollary to this is an explication of the “biopolitical” consequences of securing or refusing to create territorial reserves for indigenous isolates. Second, the emphasis on variable practices of living that emerges from a dialogue between French philosophy and indigenous case studies facilitates a regrounding of debates on minority cultural communities away from the liberal focus on rights or multiculturalist recognition.